Dueling DIY – The Final Update

Six weeks ago when I launched this Dueling DIY adventure, I thought, “I got this. No problem. I’ve got six weeks! Sarah’s going down.”

I had a somewhat ambitious list, but I thought it was entirely doable. Now that we’ve come to the end of the challenge and my final report, I’m stiff, I’m sore, I’m proud of what we accomplished… but I’m also a little bummed that I couldn’t cross everything off.

In that respect, Sarah, whose update you saw earlier this week, is the winner.

Here’s my final list:

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes (I have wood and wire, but nothing’s put together yet)
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure (still only half the garden is done)

And a couple of maybes:

  • Weather permitting, plant grapes and potatoes
  • Run a waterline out to the garden (this one is Matt’s task, so I’m not really feeling too bad that we didn’t get this done)

So I made it just over halfway through my to-do list (56% if you’re wondering).

The perimeter beds were definitely a much bigger project than I anticipated–both in terms of the amount of work and their literal size. But I’m really happy with how they turned out. In fact, I’ve already started filling them up with onion (seeds), sunflower (seeds) and grapes.

Grape buds

Although filling might be a bit of an exaggeration. According to my original calculations when we started this challenge, the perimeter of the garden is approximately 175 feet. The beds are just over 2 feet deep, which means we have 350 square feet in the perimeter alone. I’m not sure Matt and I eat enough food to keep up with this garden!

Rustic raised beds in a round vegetable garden

The outer beds are obviously where I spent most of my time throughout this challenge, but the interior of the garden–or at least half of it–got some attention too. We’re now up to 5 rows of potatoes (who exactly is going to eat all these?). We have three rows of reds, which we grew for the first time last year, and then we have two new varieties that we’re trying out: Kennebecs (highly recommended by Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff) and Russian Blues (another Karen suggestion that I couldn’t resist adding just for fun).

Potatoes growing in the garden

Our sprouts have overcome their damping off and are growing well. In fact, I’ve moved on to the hardening off stage and they’ve spent a few days outside this week. Matt brought home some tomato plants to supplement our own seedlings. Those can probably go in the garden this weekend, but I’m going to let our sprouts grow a bit more before they move outside permanently.

Sprouts and seedlings

Aside from finishing the raised beds, our biggest accomplishment last weekend was wrestling an abandoned hay bale out of the tree line beside our big field (where it and a friend have lived for years)…

Bales of hay stuck in the trees

onto the trailer (seriously, it took us about 45 minutes to get to this point)…

Straw bale in the trailer

and up to the garden.

Straw bale for mulching the garden

I’m going to try the deep mulch method to deal with weeds, maintain moisture and add nutrients to the garden. This bale is going to be my mulch. Hopefully it’s enough because I do not want to go back to get his friend. What a ridiculous way to spend a holiday Monday morning.

So obviously work does not end on the garden just because Dueling DIY has concluded. Trellising and tilling and gating and waterlining are still going to happen. As is planting and growing and (hopefully) harvesting. And I’ll be sharing more garden updates as we go along–I can’t help myself.

The beauty of taking on a project like this Dueling DIY is that in the end we each win. We’ve each made progress on our gardens, and we’re closer to enjoying the fruits of our labour (literally) than we were six weeks ago.

Thanks for the motivation, Sarah. And congratulations on your victory. I may have to send you a potato as a prize. And thanks to all of you for following along, doing your own challenges at your homes and encouraging us.

How’s your big spring project going? What gardening progress have you made recently?

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Dueling DIY – The Challenger’s Final Update

Six weeks ago, Sarah in Illinois and I started a Dueling DIY challenge. Our mission was to get our gardens in shape for the year through some friendly competition. Today, Sarah’s here with her final update on how she did. To see how we got here, check out all of our previous posts.

I have to admit, when I first made my list of things to finish for the challenge, I thought that I made it too easy on myself.

I saw Julia’s list and thought that I was sure to win.

However, what I learned was: most projects take longer than what I plan for, weather does not care what you have planned, and I procrastinate just as much as I did in high school when doing homework.

So as you can guess from what I have written so far, I did not completely finish everything on my list. But I sure made a valiant effort!

1. Make some kind of designated area (possibly raised bed) for annual vegetables such as asparagus and strawberries.

I call this 90% done. Everything is planted. Asparagus and strawberries are planted, rhubarb is in the ground and seeds and bulbs are planted for my cutting garden.

Raised beds made of barn board

For the borders I used old rough cut barn wood. We have a large pile of old wood out in the barn but I did not find enough long boards. So I am going to have to keep digging to find a couple more boards.

However, I am happy to have the two outside beds defined so that there is no fear of cutting too close with the mower.

2. Neaten and define north flower bed and add mulch.

Clean siding

Nothing new has been done here. Steve and I are debating on whether to buy a couple bags of mulch or dive right in and get a truck load.

Now that he is in the field all hours of the day, we still haven’t made the decision so the mulch didn’t get put on the flower bed. But I am still happy with how this flower bed is filling out.

Hydrangea mid-way through spring

3. Divide mums and spread around deck.

Mums around the edge of the deck

This is the first thing that I finished, and the mums are really taking off.

4. Make a designated gardening area complete with workbench.

This was my favorite project!

Potting bench

We were tearing out a room in our pole barn and so I had the countertop and the top shelf ready. All I had to do was make the framework.

Potting bench

I say that was “all I had to do” but designing the work bench from scratch was time-consuming. I knew I wanted a top shelf and a shelf underneath. I also knew I wanted a place to hang my tools.

Tools hanging on a potting bench

I used mostly older barn wood but a few pieces are newer pine so I used the darkest stain that I had on hand to try to blend the different woods together. I really could not be happier with the finished project!

Potting bench

So here is my final list:

  1. Make some kind of designated area (possibly raised bed) for annual vegetables such as asparagus and strawberries.
  2. Neaten, and define north flower bed and add mulch.
  3. Divide mums and spread around deck.
  4. Make a designated gardening area complete with workbench.

I won’t find out until Julia’s post to see how I fared in this competition, but I’m feeling kind of good about my odds!

I am so happy that we did this challenge. I guarantee if I didn’t have the constant competition in the back of my mind, I would not have gotten as much done as I did.

I would have made excuses about how I was tired, or how I had so many other things to do, and I would have avoided all of the hard work. But I am proud at how much I got done, and I am happy with my progress whether I “win” or not!

(It would be nice to win though!)

Okay. I’m impressed that Sarah can cross everything off her list. And that potting bench is awesome. I’ll be back on Friday with my final post in this Dueling DIY challenge.

Dueling DIY Week 5

Five weeks ago Sarah in Illinois and I started a friendly Dueling DIY competition to help us get our gardens in shape. In last week’s update, Sarah was distracted by newborn kittens and falling behind. I gave a fist pump and started to calculate how much farther ahead I could get. But apparently I was counting my kittens before they hatched as the saying goes. With just one week left, I’ve had a setback. Read on to find out what happened and if you want to review the progress we’ve made up to now, you can check out all of the previous posts here.

Let’s start with the bad news first.

#1: In this Dueling DIY challenge, this is all of the cuteness I can offer. Cute absolutely, but perhaps not at the level of Sarah’s kitten cuteness.

Cutie

Bad news #2: Some of our sprouts aren’t doing so hot. I think it might be a case of damping off. Although some things might be turning around. (More on this below).

Wilted watermelon seedling

And the worst news: We lost a full weekend of work because both Matt and I are sick. I ventured outside at one point and spent 45 minutes lying on the lawn when I felt like I couldn’t stand up anymore. Matt is on antibiotics for throat and ear infections. I’m holding on to my belief that this is just a cold. The amount of time we spent horizontal meant that we didn’t spend time working in the garden. So, so, so incredibly frustrating.

But between the time of my last update and being struck down with this plague, we had accomplished a few things. So there is some good news in this Dueling DIY challenge.

We have a new team member: Colonel Briggs. Short for Briggs and Stratton, our new rototiller. Honestly, Matt’s been wanting an upgrade since we inherited Fairfield. When he brought the Colonel home, he declared that the rototiller couldn’t have just a single name, hence the title.

Matt put the Colonel to work right away, and they’ve tilled half the garden.

(A face shield is not normally necessary for tilling. Matt wanted ear protection, and his chainsaw helmet was closest).

Tilling the garden

We’re thisclose on the raised beds. I have about four timbers left to set–less than 1/8 of the perimeter to go. Then I have to spread the cardboard, layer in the mulch and top them up with dirt.

Raised garden bed made of logs

We had four yards of triple mix delivered, and I’ve filled the raised beds more than half of the way around the garden. I feel I have to say the beds would be completely done if we hadn’t been sick. Argh.

Four yards of topsoil

Despite not being finished with the garden set-up, we’ve already moved on to planting. Three (!) rows of potatoes are in, and we’re not done yet. A new shipment of seed potatoes arrived in the mail yesterday.

Potato shoot

I’ve also planted eight grape vines. I’m so excited about these grapes. Although I fully admit that I have no idea what I’m doing with them. I’m trying to read about pruning and planting and trellising and training. Right now, I’m focusing on watering them and keeping my fingers crossed that they take root. Please share any tips you have.

Freshly planted grape vines

In terms of smaller updates, let’s start with the literally small–the sprouts. As you saw at the top, we’ve had a lot of shriveling and dying. We’re down to just one watermelon out of seven. We lost about half the tomatoes too. I think it was a case of damping off, so I’m giving the watering can a rest.

The sprouts continued to die, but I was very surprised that some new sprouts started popping up as things dried out. We have a new watermelon–our first of the Crimson Sweet variety–and a whole bunch of new tomatoes. I know I’m going to have to separate the sprouts that are doubled (or tripled) up. I’m not sure I can bring myself to pinch out the extra sprouts, but I’m not sure I can keep everyone alive if I try to separate and transplant them. Any advice?

Crimson Sweet watermelon sprout

Pepper and tomato seedlings

The other win is that the raspberries–black and red–are weeded. And the raspberries themselves are spreading like weeds. I’m so pleased with how they’ve settled in.

Young raspberry canes

And if we hadn’t spent our whole weekend horizontal, we would have the trellises set up to support them.

Argh.

Let’s move on, shall we? We’ll take a look at the original to-do list. Again, I can cross a little bit more off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter (more than half done)
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure (half done)

Only one week to go in this Dueling DIY challenge. Send vitamins.

Garden Dueling DIY Week 4

Sarah in Illinois and I are in week 4 of our Dueling DIY challenge.We’ve been making slow progress on our gardens (you can check out the progress in our previous posts), but recently Sarah’s attention has been directed elsewhere.

Distractions. It sounds a lot better than: “I am really far behind and worried that Julia may very well win the competition.”

What has me distracted?

Bad weather:

Weather forecast

A full day of shopping at an antique/craft market and then shopping at a HUGE garden center with my mom and my brother’s girlfriend:

Antique shopping

Antique shopping

Plant shopping

My purchases: rhubarb, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, rosemary, parsley, fun flowers and a micro cherry tomato plant. (I can’t wait to see what it produces!)

And then finally a surprise litter of kittens:

Kittens

I mean, seriously, who can get any work done when you have this to cuddle?

Kitten

I knew that one of my cats was very likely pregnant and when one day she was noticeably thinner, I started searching. She hid them very well and it took me four days to find them. But now that I have, I can’t stay away. I will be sure to find homes for all of them as soon as they are old enough but until then, I get to love on them!

Thankfully I did take advantage of some beautiful weather the last few days of April, and I made great improvement to the landscaping on the north end of the house. I hand washed the siding to remove all of the green that has been building up.

Before:

Dirty siding

After:

Clean siding

My mom gave me two of the roses I had planted when I still lived at home and I transplanted to this bed.

Rosebud

However, until I get some mulch, I can’t mark this off my list. So I hate to admit it, Julia, but I cannot mark a single thing off this week.

  • Make some kind of designated area (possibly raised bed) for annual vegetables such as asparagus and strawberries — Area is tilled and asparagus planted but strawberries need planted and needs border
  • Neaten, and define north flower bed and add mulch — So close!
  • Divide mums and spread around deck
  • Make a designated gardening area complete with workbench

I am very aware of how few days are left in this challenge. So I am going to dig down and find the drive to make these last two weeks count (between kitten snuggles)!

Yawning kitten

Okay. Sarah definitely wins in the cuteness category. And some of the shopping and roses are in the gardening category, even if they’re not on the to-do list. I’m ahead for now. Hopefully it stays that way for the next two weeks.

Garden Dueling DIY Week 3

Sarah in Illinois and I have entered into a friendly competition this spring to help us get our gardens in shape. We’re now at the conclusion of week 3 of this Dueling DIY, and I’m sharing my second update. You can check out all of the previous posts here.

It was just noon on Sunday. I had a long list of things that I wanted to do in the garden, but I was running out of steam. I managed a few more hours before I hobbled retreated indoors. (Sarah, take note that I said the garden claimed a temporary victory. I am not conceding anything yet in this DIY duel).

I still don’t have any dramatic before and after pictures to share yet. But I can report some progress.

The big accomplishment so far is edging the garden.

Our garden is 2,462 square feet, which means, if I’m remembering my geometry formulas correctly, its outer perimeter is roughly 175 feet. Whatever the distance, it felt like it took a very long time to go around the whole outer edge.

Here’s what the edge looked like at the start. Ugh.

Edging a weedy garden

Here’s the progress shot.

Edging the vegetable garden

And here’s the final.

Wood "curbs" to edge a vegetable garden

We used the fence posts (or in the case of the image above, the telephone pole) as “curbs.” I’m hoping they accomplish two things: 1) Keeping weeds out of the garden. 2) Keeping small critters from crawling under the chainlink and into the garden.

Matt cut the fence posts to length with his chainsaw and then we dropped them into the shallow trenches that I’d dug around the perimeter.

Remember this picture from my last update of all of the materials for the garden?

Materials for the garden update

We’re now down to a single pile of posts (and some firewood).

Fence posts

I also made a dent in the lumber part of the pile when I went on a marathon stake making session.

An electric mitre saw is perhaps not a conventional garden tool, but I wanted a lot of stakes.

Cutting garden stakes with a mitre saw

How many stakes? I couldn’t find the energy to count. More than 10 gallons worth.

Pails of garden stakes

The stakes came into play with my plan for the other half of the fence posts: the raised beds.

My plan is to build shallow raised beds just around the outside edge of the garden. These will host asparagus, grapes, rhubarb, sunflowers, and probably beets, lettuce and who knows what else.

Again, I’m using the fence posts as curbs, and I’m holding them in place with the stakes.

Shallow rustic raised vegetable garden beds

After digging my way around the outside of the garden, I have no desire to do more weeding, so I’m giving the lasagna method a try within the raised beds.

I used cardboard for my base layer. (Die weeds, die).

Using cardboard to kill weeds in the vegetable garden

Then I covered that with a layer of straw mulch that has been composting in the garden since last fall. I was surprised how much the straw has broken down already. I think it should be good food for the new beds.

Straw mulch

Four yards of topsoil arrived yesterday morning, so I will top up the beds this weekend.

The raised beds were where I lost my mojo. I had a small sledge for hammering in the stakes, but swinging the hammer over and over (and over and over) was surprisingly tiring. So I’ve made it halfway around the garden.

I know it’s halfway because I’ve marked the centre aisle with our super long rope. The picture below doesn’t look like a lot of progress, but you might be able to see the curbs at the far right waiting to be set in place.

Unfortunately, you’re also able to see all the weeds. Matt got the rototiller running with no trouble, which got us very excited, but as soon as he started to till it stalled. And stalled. And stalled. So frustrating. So the straw and weeds and ash are all still sitting on the soil.

Gardening progress

One place the weeds are gone is in the red raspberry row. Woo-hoo for small victories. (The twine is to mark the row until I get a proper trellis in place).

Raspberry row marked with stakes and twine

A bigger victory is how much the raspberries have expanded. Look at all those little plants. This is going to be good. And the black raspberries next door–while still weedy–also appear quite healthy.

Raspberry sprouts

My usual gardening sidekick is Bax. It was nice to be a trio this weekend thanks to Matt’s help with the fence posts. However, as soon as Matt was done cutting, Bax was more than ready for bro time–indoors. Apparently he’s only interested in gardening if he can work on his tan at the same time. The weather was cloudy and drizzly, and as much as dude likes to pretend he’s an outdoor dog, he’s a fairweather outdoor dog.

Thankfully, Ralph is much tougher than her brother, so she braved the weather to keep me company. And unlike the sunbather, she actually participated, inspecting the raised beds and even assisting with some weeding.

Ralph in the garden

Ralph in the garden

Eventually, though, even I gave in and retreated to the indoors. (Ralph as always stayed outside).

However, there’s still some more progress inside. Tomatoes (Sicilian Saucers) and peppers (a random mix) have sprouted, and I transplanted our tallest watermelon sprouts already.

Watermelon sprouts

We cut our seed potatoes down to isolate individual sprouts, and they’re firmly at the grody stage. We really need to get them in the ground this weekend.

Chitted potato sprouts

The weather forecast is supposed to be bright and warm this weekend, so I have high hopes again for progress and productivity. However, I’m away from the farm a bit (have to remember Mother’s Day) and… guess what… picking up my grapes. I’m excited to have my first vines. Finger crossed I can keep them alive and help them grow the way they’re supposed to.

Before I get to that, though, let’s go back to my original to-do list. I can cross at least a couple more things off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter (half done)
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure

Three weeks to go, Sarah. We’re halfway through this Dueling DIY. Are you going to make it? The garden may have kicked my butt last weekend, but I’m going to be back and better than ever in just a few days. Watch out.

What progress have you made on your spring projects at your house? Any tips for lasagna gardening? Or building raised beds? How about growing grapes? Or keeping a rototiller running? Do you have any furry gardeners at your house?

Garden Dueling DIY Week 2

Sarah in Illinois and I have entered into a friendly competition this spring to help us get our gardens in shape. We’re now at the conclusion of week 2 of this Dueling DIY. (Week 2 already, yipes!) Sarah is here today to share her first official update. You can check out all of the previous posts here.

Lots of rain and cool weather has continued here, and I was running out of time to work on this week’s challenge. I was getting nervous because I could just picture Julia having beautiful weather and getting ahead of me. (Ha-ha-ha. Be afraid, Sarah. Be very afraid). I was able to do a second till of the garden Tuesday before another round of rain came through, but that was as far as I had gotten.

However, the forecast called for perfect weather Sunday, and I had a list a mile long to work on. Of course at the top of the list were projects on our challenge. I can’t mark very much off of the list yet, but I sure got a great start.

The first thing I did was divide up my two big mums and spread them around the deck.

Splitting mums

I was easily able to make 7 different clumps of plants. I dug holes and planted them and watered them well.

Transplanting mums

While I was doing that, Steve changed the oil and put new blades on the mower. Then I mowed while he tilled the garden for the third time and then we decided where our “annual garden” would go.

We made a few first passes over then new garden, but I still have to make some type of borders and plant it.

The foreground is our new bed for plants that won’t get tilled up every year such as strawberries and asparagus and in the background is our yearly vegetable garden. You can see the fencing ready for the cucumbers and sugar snap peas. And in front of it is the hill for our row of potatoes.

Tilled garden

The beautiful weather also meant it was time to bring out our deck furniture from the barn. I got everything scrubbed and hosed off. I let it all sit in the sun to dry and then we set it up on the deck. We finished our hard day of yard work with brats and shish-kabobs on the grill and ate it outside on the deck. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

Despite all of that hard work I was only able to check one thing off of my challenge list:

  • Make some kind of designated area (possibly raised bed) for perennial vegetables such as asparagus and strawberries.
  • Neaten, and define north flower bed and add mulch.
  • Divide mums and spread around deck
  • Make a designated gardening area complete with workbench.

It may not look like much was accomplished, but I am setting myself up for the kill! So how was your weekend, Julia?

Oooh. See how she throws in that little jab at the end? We’re pretty much tied up right now. Sarah and I have each officially crossed just one thing off our lists. However, I have big plans for both Matt and me this coming weekend. Watch out, Sarah.

Sprouts

Sarah in Illinois will be sharing her update in our Dueling DIY gardening challenge later this week. I couldn’t help sharing a small–very small–garden update of my own today.

We have sprouts!

Watermelon sprouts

Two of the seeds we planted last week have sprouted. These are sugar baby watermelons.

There are 36 little soil pellets in this container, so we have a lot more sprouts to go. And we have a long way to go until the garden is ready for these sprouts. Dueling DIY continues.

Do you have any sprouts at your house? Have you ever used pellets like this before? (This is our first time). Any watermelon growing tips?

Garden Dueling DIY Week 1

Fire in the field

In this Dueling DIY garden challenge, I am on fire. Literally.

These were my jeans at the end of Saturday.

Burned cuffs on my jeans

And this was the back of my neck at the end of the weekend. Ow-ee.

Sunburned neck

If you’re new to this Dueling DIY series, Sarah in Illinois and I are undertaking some friendly competition to help us get our gardens in shape this spring. You can check out all of the previous posts here.

Now, if you look again at that top picture and squint through the smoke, you might notice that the fire is some ways away from the garden itself–that big round thing with the fence around it.

Fire in the field

Blame it on my pyromaniac tendencies. Blame it on the other outdoor task on my 2016 Home Goals list–general property cleanup. Blame it on the first nice weather of the year. I got a little bit distracted over the weekend.

I cleared a stack of about a dozen incredibly heavy metal siding panels that had been hiding in the weeds on the south side of the garden.

Sheets of metal siding

Wiley and me moving the siding

Then I cleared the weeds themselves–using my preferred method of fire.

Burning weeds in the south field

Burning weeds in the south field

I cleared a very large pile of lumber at the edge of our centre field–and lit some of the really punky stuff on fire. (I might have a problem).

Lumber pile at the edge of the field

Field after clearing the lumber pile

I cleared a stack of old fence posts beside the driveshed.

Pile of old wood fenceposts

I’ve moved these fence posts once before, picking them up from where they were scattered around the property and tucking them behind the driveshed. I had to remind myself a couple of times that I had moved them before, and I could move them again.

Moving the fenceposts

These things were heavy. The very last one was the girth and almost the length of a telephone pole–not even close to a fence post. Example 8,694 of why I don’t need a gym membership.

Moving the fenceposts

But I digress. All of these clearing tasks do actually have something to do with the vegetable garden.

The fence posts are going to become the “curbs” around the outside of the garden and the raised beds.

Some of the lumber from the field is going to be trellises for the tomatoes and stakes to hold the curbs in place.

The metal T-posts that were mixed in with the lumber pile are going to be the trellises for the raspberries.

So my big accomplishment in this Dueling DIY is that I have amassed all of my materials. A whole lot of materials.

Materials for the garden update

My other accomplishments are on the non-heavy lifting side: I ordered seed potatoes and grape vines, and we’ve started some watermelon, tomato and pepper seeds inside.

Here’s my original to-do list that I shared last week. I can cross just one thing off.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure currently spread over the garden

But here’s how I’d calculate my scorecard so far:

  • I cleared the weeds from a space roughly equal to the size of the garden. Maybe this means fewer weeds to go to seed and infiltrate the garden itself.
  • I am prepped–and stocked–in the garden materials department.
  • I moved a telephone pole all by myself–in fact the equivalent of several telephone poles if you put all of those fence posts together.
  • And I lit myself on fire.

Beat that Sarah.

Thanks to everyone who shared their garden/spring to-do lists last week. Please share your progress. How is your spring project coming? Are there any pyromaniacs out there? Who else gets distracted from the primary project? What are you working on in your garden?

Spring Garden Dueling DIY – The Challenger

This week I kicked off a Dueling DIY Challenge to help get the vegetable garden ready for planting. Sarah in Illinois is my opponent in this challenge, and she’s here today to share her to-do list. Another Sarah, she of Ugly Duckling House and one of the original Dueling DIYers, issued another challenge yesterday–she admonished Sarah and me to “throw down.” I’m not usually one for smack talk, but I’ve seen Sarah’s to-do list, and I think I’ve got this.

There’s nothing I love more than a little friendly competition, whether it is during bowling league, golfing, or predicting the outcome of professional football games. So when Julia suggested a competition that would also help me get my garden and yard in better shape, I was all for it.

Last weekend I looked around the yard and garden and made a list of things that I really want to get done.

Our temperatures have been unseasonably cool so far so I still have not made any type of raised bed or containment for my asparagus and strawberries. Remember I stuck them in a pot temporarily? Well, they are not going to last there much longer.

Asparagus and strawberry plants

If you look closely, the strawberries are already blooming. And I really don’t know what to say about that asparagus other than it needs planted badly!

I have a small flower bed on the north side of our house that needs some attention. It needs mulch and the division between it and the yard either needs neatened up or maybe a more permanent border.

I shared this picture of my mums back in October and said that I wanted to divide them and spread them around our deck. Now that they are starting to come up, it is time to do just that.

Deck with mums

For my final and most ambitious project, I want to make a designated gardening area. I have pinned a few gardening benches on Pinterest.

While cleaning out one of our barns this weekend I found what will make a perfect bench top and that gave me the kick to get started on a work area.

So here is my summary:

  • Make some kind of designated area (possibly raised bed) for annual vegetables such as asparagus and strawberries.
  • Make a designated area (or raised bed) for a new cutting garden.
  • Neaten, and define north flower bed and add mulch.
  • Divide mums and spread around deck
  • Make a designated gardening area complete with workbench.

I am inspired Julia, let’s go!

Let’s go indeed. Bring it on, Sarah.

The woman can’t even control her asparagus. Yup, I’ve got this.

Vegetable garden dueling DIY challenge

I’ve been eagerly waiting to get back into the vegetable garden, but Mother Nature has not cooperated so far this spring. In fact, we had snow three times in the last week, negative temperatures and windchills.

But I’ve decided it’s time. No matter what Mother Nature thinks, gardening is going to happen.

Now I’m in Canada, so it’s not going to happen for a little while. The traditional start date for the Canadian gardening season is Victoria Day–also known as May 24 (or the 23rd this year because we’re all about the holiday Monday).

That’s six weeks away, which I think is perfect. There’s lots of work to keep me busy until frost has passed.

Garden at the beginning of April

It turns out, I’m not the only one with a gardening to-do list. Sarah in Illinois has one too. Inspired by DIY Diva and Ugly Duckling House, we’re kicking off a Dueling DIY challenge. Today, I’ll share my spring garden to-do list. On Wednesday, Sarah will share hers. Every week from now until Victoria Day, we’ll post progress reports and help keep each other on track.

We hope that you’ll join in too. Share your to-do list in the comments today, and come back each week to share your updates.

Raspberry canes sprouting

Here’s what I want to accomplish in the next six weeks:

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Start a few seeds indoors
  • Till in the ash, straw and manure currently spread over the garden

And a couple of maybes:

  • Weather permitting, plant grapes and potatoes
  • Run a waterline out to the garden (this one’s Matt’s… I’m not sure he’ll be as enthusiastic about Dueling DIY as Sarah is)

I think it’s do-able. I just need a little co-operation, Mother Nature.

Are you looking forward to gardening season? Or do you have another spring project? What’s your to-do list?